This is a ranking of the Six Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Graphic Design in California.
An undergraduate degree in graphic design allows students to develop a diverse skillset and expand their creativity in one of the most sought-after career fields in the country. Graduates can pursue a myriad of careers, including marketing, advertising, and design.
Students in graphic design study multimedia, layout design, and graphic design software. These courses will prepare majors to enter into any industry with creative confidence that they can connect with society through graphic design.
Coursework will typically include digital illustration, typography, online publishing, digital effects, and three-dimensional art. Some degree programs will incorporate business and marketing courses to allow students to diversify their skills. Students can often choose to specialize in a type of media or design to train for a certain career path.
Graphic design applies to a wide variety of carrier fields from construction signs to the entertainment industry. Each program listed here will assist students in creating their own unique portfolio of work for the career of their choice. Most graduates can find entry level work, however higher level education is available for those who are interested.
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The Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Graphic Design in California
Bachelor of Fine Arts Graphic Design
At the top-ranked Art Center College of Design, students can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.
The BFA Graphic Design program teaches students to bring words and images to life through print media, pointed branding, motion and visual design. This unique program exposes students to multiple areas of study and emphasis which reflects the wide range of professional opportunities available upon graduation.
With a student population of 2,610, this smaller campus offers a personalized educational experience. Students take classes in typography, graphic design history, packaging design, and motion design. By their fifth term, undergraduate students will have the opportunity to choose coursework in their desired area of emphasis.
Graduates of this program will have a broad understanding of the graphic design industry. Alumni have worked for exciting, global brands like Nike, Tesla, Google, and Facebook. Influential Alumni from Art Center College of Design include Petra Wennberg, UX co-founder and partner, and Kit Hinrichs, author of Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag.
Influential Faculty at Art Center College of Design:
- Ania Borysiewicz: Owner of Ladder Design
- John Chambers: Creative Director at Principal Conceptual Designs
Credit Requirement: 132 credits
Selection of Courses:
- Digital Basics: LinkedIn Learning 1.0
- Narrative Imaging
- Communication Design
- Materials of Art and Design
Admissions: Students must know what major they intent to pursue, an undeclared option is not available. Interested students must submit official transcripts and SAT or ACT scores along with the online application. The application includes several essays, as well as a video/audio essay. Most important to the application is the student’s portfolio. The student must align their portfolio with the major they have chosen.
The Art Center College of Design receives accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
Curious and creative graphic design students can achieve their Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at the California College of the Arts (CCA).
The Graphic Design undergraduate program encourages students to work with all types of media and provides valuable hands-on experience in all areas of graphic design. BFA students are encouraged to take risks and push their creative limits in order to develop meaningful and socially responsible design.
Undergraduates will take courses in motion graphics, editorial design, Photoshop, interaction design and more. CCA urges students to consider the implications that their work has on the broader political and social environment of our nation. By their senior year, students will draft a senior thesis, allowing them to elaborate on a specific topic or area of concentration. Students also devote time to learning about the history of graphic design to discover how they fit into the ever-evolving tapestry of the graphic design world.
Upon graduation, students will have a grasp of industry-leading software as well as core design and studio art techniques. Graduates have gone on to work as product and web designers for industries such as Facebook and Google, as well as studios like IDEO and Bonfire Labs.
Influential Faculty at California College of the Arts:
- Rachel Berger, Chair, Researcher of Cultural Artifacts, Practicing Designer
- Sara Raffo, Assistant Chair, Specializing in Civic Design, Data Visualization, and Interaction Design
Credit Requirement: 120
Selection of Courses:
- History of Visual Communications
- Diversity Studies Studio
- 2D, 3D, and 4D Core Studio
Admissions: Interested students must complete an online application and submit previous transcripts, a personal essay, a letter of recommendation, and a portfolio of work.
California College of the Arts receives accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
Private research university
Bachelor of Art in Studio Arts with concentration in Graphic Design
Among a student population of 8,148, students can earn their Bachelor of Art in Studio Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design.
At LMU, graphic design undergraduates propose creative solutions and respond to the most important issues affecting society. Students design unique pieces across multiple forms of media, all of which are focused on promoting social justice and societal change. Within the studio arts degree, graphic design students have the opportunity to explore their artistic and theoretical approaches to design.
Courses in the BA program begin with a foundation in liberal arts including philosophy and diversity and progress through exploration into history, natural science, and human behavior with a final emphasis on ethics and making connections between academic disciplines. Students can select from professional track coursework like design entrepreneurship that provides real-world experience before graduation or display their work at the Thomas P. Kelly student art gallery. Nestled in the heart of Los Angeles, LMU provides direct access to the heart of the LA art scene.
Alumni go on to pursue successful careers in motion design, politics, non-profits and within the thriving Los Angeles art scene. Influential Alumni from Loyola Marymount University include:
- Tony Brown, 1992, Executive Director of Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA)
- Gail Mitchell, 1975, Senior Editor, Billboard Magazine
- Franci Calfo, 1989, President, Imagine Television
Credit Requirement: 60 units
Selection of Courses:
- Creative Direction
- Experimental Typography
- History of Design
- Experiencing Art and Social Justice
Admissions: Students must submit official transcripts and a letter of recommendation with their application. Standardized test scores are not required for the incoming Fall 2021/Spring 2022 students. Students should be aware that some programs require additional components such as a portfolio or an audition.
Loyola Marymount University receives accreditation from Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
At the Laguna College of Art and Design, students can achieve their Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.
Students will be challenged to experience and develop their personal approach to graphic design across multiple disciplines. LCAD understands that our ever-evolving world requires students to have a familiarity in all styles and forms of design in order to adapt to industry demands. Students can choose to pursue the general graphic design degree or select an emphasis in illustration or action sport design. Sony Music partners with LCAD to develop virtual reality design for their various artists.
Courses in the BFA program incorporate both Studio and Liberal Arts requirements. Graphic Design courses include digital photography, animation for motion graphics, and fundamentals of typography. Liberal Arts courses are founded in graphic design, including the history of graphic design, modern and contemporary art, and graphic novels.
Graduates of LCAD work within some of the world’s leading companies and organizations including Disney, Apple, Adobe, and even the United Nations. Influential Alumni from Laguna College of Art and Design:
- Laura Findley, Designer at L’Oreal
- Christopher Sommers, Footwear Designer at Vans
- Seth Cheshire, Design Consultant at Facebook
Influential Faculty at Laguna College of Art and Design:
- Catharin Eure, Chair of Graphic Design and Digital Media, Dean of Innovation
- Dana Herkelrath, Assistant Chair of Graphic Design and Digital Media
Credit requirements: 122 units
Selection of Courses:
- User Interface Design
- Computer Imaging
- Fundamentals of Photoshop & Illustrator
- Senior Portfolio 1 & 2
Admissions: Interested applicants must submit prior transcripts, an essay, and a portfolio. The online application is free to complete.
Laguna College of Art and Design receives accreditation from Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation.
Bachelor of Science in Graphic Communication
Students can earn their Bachelor of Science in Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic State University, otherwise known as Cal Poly.
The Graphic Communication degree provides areas of concentration in design reproduction technology, graphic communication management, graphics for packaging, and UX/UI. Undergraduates will learn by doing through managing budgets to designing solutions for real-world scenarios. Students even have the opportunity to work at the student-run commercial printing and digital imaging storefront on campus or in gain experience in one of the five Graphic Communication labs on campus.
Classes in the BS program prepare students for different industry sectors by providing a wide-range of course offerings. Coursework includes consumer packaging, contemporary print management, and data management, estimating and visualization in graphic communication. Students will wrap-up their degree with a three-credit senior project of their choosing.
Influential Faculty at Cal Poly include:
- Colleen Twomey, Associate Professor, Department Chair
- Dina Vees, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
Graduates of the BS, Graphic Communication program have gone on to work for both national and international corporations as well as major companies within California.
Credit Requirement: 180 units
Selection of Courses:
- Digital Publishing Systems
- Printed Electronics and Product Development
- Human Resource Management Issues for Print and Digital Media
- Web Development and Content Management
Admissions: Applicants must select their major and submit transcripts. Admissions will not require standardized test scores for the Fall 2021 class. If applicable students should submit extracurricular involvement or work experience for admissions to consider.
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo receives accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
Private, Christian University
Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate
Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Visual Experience
Undergraduate students can achieve their Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Visual Experience at California Baptist University.
With a population of nearly 10,000 students, those at CBU will receive a personalized and hands-on education while gaining important, industry-specific skills. Students can choose from five areas of concentration including:
- Graphic design
- Motion design
- Visual Experience design
Selecting a concentration allows students to develop their own area of specialty and set themselves apart from other graphic designers in the industry.
Coursework includes both foundational and upper division coursework in graphic design. Additionally, students will complete fifteen units worth of coursework within their desired area of concentration. The Graphic Design program also integrates experiential learning through outdoor shoots, speaking engagements, fellowships, or other opportunities to network within the industry.
88% of students have gone on to work as designers within creative fields, including companies like Tesla, AirBnB, and Apple. Influential Alumni from California Baptist University include Greg Laurie, Pastor of Harvest church
Influential Faculty at California Baptist University include:
- Dirk Dallas, M.F.A. Program Lead and Associate Professor of Graphic Design
- B.C. Biermann, PhD, Associate Professor of Graphic Design
- Nancy Ward, M.F.A., Lecturer in Art/Illustration
Credit Requirement: 63 units
Selection of Courses:
- Designing Brand Identity
- Mobile Game Design
- Studio Lighting and Photography
- Figure Drawing
Admissions: Interested students must complete an application and submit previous official transcripts. The application includes a 3–5 paragraph response essay. Admissions will not require standardized test scores for the 2021 semesters.
Transfer credit accepted: Must have a minimum of 24 transferable credits
California Baptist University receives accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
Graphic Design Careers | Table
|Careers in Graphic Design and Animation||Bachelor's Degree: Average Salaries in 2019||Additional Positions to Year 2029||Growth Rate|
|Multimedia Artists and Animators||$75,270.00||2,800||4%|
Graphic Design Colleges | Table
|Colleges||Tuition & Fees||Acceptance Rate||Graduation Rate||Median SAT||Median ACT||Student Population|
|1. Art Center College of Design||$43,000||68%||72%||SAT Submission Optional||ACT Submission Optional||2,610|
|2. California College of the Arts||$49,000||88%||60%||SAT Submission Not Required||ACT Submission Not Required||1,763|
|3. Loyola Marymount University||$48,000||47%||83%||1300||29||8,148|
|4. Laguna College of Art and Design||$31,000||81%||43%||SAT Submission Optional||ACT Submission Optional||636|
|5. California Polytechnic State University||$10,000||30%||80%||1335||29||21,329|
|6. California Baptist University||$33,000||80%||60%||1095||22||9,729|